White House Initiative Aims to Expand, Diversify Apprenticeships

The new Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative builds on President Joe Biden’s investment in programs that provide on-the-job instruction and mentorship.
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  • The Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative expands on Biden’s Registered Apprenticeship program, a credentialed “earn and learn” model.
  • Its goals include hiring 10,000 new apprentices and developing 460 new apprenticeship programs in one year.
  • Employers are increasingly looking to apprenticeships and community colleges to build out workforces.

A new national network of employers, educators, labor organizations, and community groups is setting big goals for expanding and diversifying apprenticeship opportunities.

The Biden administration’s Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative officially launched this month with more than 200 organizations on board and committed to developing 460 new registered apprenticeship programs that hire 10,000 new apprentices.

Improving access to apprenticeships for historically underrepresented populations such as women, youth, people of color, people in rural communities, people with disabilities, and people with arrest or conviction records, is among the top priorities for the program, according to the White House announcement.

This new initiative builds on Biden’s investments in a Registered Apprenticeship program that the White House said has added more than 4,000 new apprenticeships and 6,700 new employer partners.

Programs falling under that effort include Biden’s 120-day “Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint,” a push to increase the country’s cybersecurity workforce through registered apprenticeships. That initiative launched in July at the White House’s National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit.

“These newly trained workers will help protect our critical infrastructure, advance our digital way of life, strengthen our economy and improve access to cybersecurity career paths for underrepresented communities, especially women, people of color, veterans and people with disabilities,” Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said in a July press release.

Another recent federal initiative to boost apprenticeships is the Apprenticeship Building America grants. That program will award $121 million in grants to build apprenticeships in July, many of which will go to community colleges to “strengthen and modernize Registered Apprenticeship programs and enable workers to find a reliable pathway to the middle class,” according to the Department of Labor.

Likewise, Community colleges are set to play a key role in the $500 million Good Jobs Challenge — part of the American Rescue Plan act that looks to boost workforce development and job opportunities for more than 50,000 Americans.

American tech companies are among the big employers looking to apprenticeships and community colleges to boost their workforce.

Google and Microsoft last year announced wide-reaching initiatives to boost their own tech workforces. Google also provided community colleges with free access to its Google Career Certificates, which include training in a broad range of tech fields, while Microsoft announced a campaign to recruit 250,000 people into the cybersecurity field by 2025.

Amazon last year announced it would pay full tuition costs for its front-line hourly operations workers via its Career Choice tuition assistance program.